It has been a quiet few days in the transactional world, but there are plenty of interesting things being written with possible implications for the player market. Here are a few pieces well worth a read:
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) takes a look at players who entered camp with notable tweaks to their respective games, rounding up the impressions of scouts from around the game. Diamondbacks righty Taijuan Walker is said to have impressed with his latest mechanical overhaul, and he’s showing improved fastball command along with a sharper cut fastball. For White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, the change has come more on the mental side; it seems he’s improving his ability to recognize pitches and decide whether to swing. The results haven’t been all that promising for Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, Law suggests, who still seems to lack bat speed despite a newly reworked swing.
- R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports writes about the sources of the data that we read so much about. Beyond the obvious and well-known sources, there’s also a cottage industry of individuals and small companies who sell various kinds of information to ballclubs. While burgeoning in-house analytical departments have obviated the need for certain third-party services, the appetite for data has led to new avenues. It’s a fascinating and lengthy look at this important topic that you’ll want to read in full.
- With research from Willie Harrison and John Salmon suggesting that the home-team advantage shows up most prominently in the poor performances of visiting starters in the first inning, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the possible implications. Cameron suggests that there could be merit to the idea of utilizing a reliever to throw an inning to open games for visiting teams, before turning things over to the “starter” in the bottom of the second. While that’d be a tough strategy to implement over most of the season, it could be of greater function when rosters expand or during the postseason.
- For individual pitchers, we know that stuff doesn’t always equate to results. Eno Sarris of Fangraphs addresses that general topic by looking closely at the differing 2016 seasons put up by Reds pitchers Cody Reed and Dan Straily (the latter of whom has since been traded to the Marlins). Sarris’s breakdown suggests that predictability — or, the lack thereof — is an important ingredient for a major league pitcher, regardless of what kind of raw offerings he possesses. For Straily, being able to throw offspeed pitches for strikes in hitters’ counts last year was an important part of his renaissance. In Reed’s case, Sarris discovers, he relied too heavily not just on his fastball, but in throwing it to a certain spot (outer half). Be sure to check out the full piece for all the details and nuance in the analysis.